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Leaders in Learning: Treasure Valley preschoolers learn by playing

The preschoolers at Hillsdale Elementary just got a whole bunch of new toys to play with! (CBS 2)

A joint preschool program in Meridian, between YMCA Guided Discovery and the West Ada School District Early Intervention Program, is taking learning back to to the basics — playing.

The preschoolers at Hillsdale Elementary just got a whole bunch of new toys to play with. They were gifted to the class through donations and CapEd Credit Union's Get $100 & Give $100 program.

From kitchen sets and baby dolls that encourage role playing to art supplies that promote the creative process rather than a perfect final product — there's a lot of to learn while also having fun.

Preschool teacher Molly O'Donnell said these toys teach fine and gross motor skills, language development, emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and language skills.

That's why she makes sure the students have opportunities to play with the toys every single day!

"The more exciting we can make it and fun for them, the more that they are going to be excited to go in and learn those important concepts," said Molly. "It's just teaching it in a way that they want to be a part of it."

Molly says teaching these skills in a fun and inviting way is especially important for her class because about half of the students have special needs.

"They're already at a disadvantage, whether that's going through motor delays [or] language delays," said Molly. "They just need extra motivating things, so we can work on closing that gap for them and help them build those skills."

Molly said there is still a balance in the classroom, with a portion of the day being the more tradition teacher-directed style of learning. But, just one month into having the new toys and she said the students are already showing all the signs of learning the important life skills she hoped that they would.

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